Teaching Life Lessons through Storytelling
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Teaching Life Lessons through Storytelling

Published by: Jeanne (1)
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  Everyday our kids face a much more complicated social structure, an unforgiving pecking order that brings them face to face with rejection, bullying, body image, safety concerns and self esteem issues we never dreamed of.  The pressure to fit in exposes youngsters down as far as the grade school level to participate in risky behaviors that were not so prevalent and easily accessed as when we were young.

Not only has our society become so fast paced that we meet ourselves coming and going but we’re also faced with the onslaught of a technology few of us fully understand. We compete for our children’s attention with video games, computer chat rooms, phones and tablets that allow the world into our homes and influence our kid’s attitudes and actions.

So how do we compete with that? How do we get our messages and communications through without our children becoming defensive, offensive or just plain apathetic? One great method is by utilizing the old fashioned art of storytelling.

New information about brain maturation and how and when we learn has come to light. The latest research tells us the period before the age of twelve is the time when our kids are forming their opinions on themselves and the world around them. By the age of twelve their opinions and attitudes have been created about their preferences in color and style, how they see themselves fitting into the word, how they view others, their values, their spiritual beliefs and even so far as to the political party they might prefer. Before the age of twelve then becomes the ripest period for us to guide and coach our children.

Storytelling allows us as parents and grandparents to pass along our values and morals to our children in stealth mode. A good story allows the listener to drop their defenses and just listen. Since a story is entertainment, no walls are built, no preconceived attitudes pop up. The story is about someone or something else, it is simply listened to. The material goes in and the really good news is, once something is learned, it can’t be unlearned.

Let me give you an example, a story I was told by another story teller in Florida. It’s the story of how the skunk got its stripe and is the best one I’ve heard on the subject of bullying.

A long time ago near the Shores of the Great Lake lived the most beautiful animal in the forest. It was about one foot high and two feet long with the purest whitest fur not even virgin snow could rival. The crowning glory of this most beautiful animal was his long fluffy white tail. He could be seen strutting on the shoreline with his tail held high for all to see and all to admire.

 

As you can imagine, it would be hard to be the most beautiful animal in the forest for very long without beginning to believe you were better than anyone else. So it was for this magnificent creature. It was not enough that every other animal knew he was the Most Beautiful or admired, perhaps even the most envied, no, soon the most beautiful animal began to flaunt his good fortune.

 

None of his animal brothers and sisters could pass by him without Most Beautiful bragging and boosting of his comeliness. If the deer would pass, the most beautiful could be heard saying “I am the most beautiful animal in the wood. I have the whitest fur ever seen and my tail is the fluffiest anyone has ever had the good fortune to witness. I know you wish you were me, you’re just brown with only a bit of white on the underside of your tail.”

 

Naturally this made the deer feel terrible and ashamed of his own deer beauty but the most beautiful animal took no notice and didn’t care about Deer’s feelings. This happened to every animal the Most Beautiful encountered until the moment, he went too far.

 

One day, Most Beautiful happened to come upon a nest of baby owls. Anyone that has ever seen a baby owl knows they are not that attractive. The Most Beautiful took full advantage of this opportunity to make sure the baby owls knew they were not as lovely as he. He went about telling them their eyes bulged and their heads were too big. He made fun of their immature wings and scant baby feathers. Most Beautiful pointed out all the things he thought made them less attractive then he was and poked such fun at the babies that he caused these little ones to cry.

 

Not far away Mother Owl was hunting and heard her babies weeping bitterly. At once she spread her great silent wings and flew back to the nest. When her children told her what the Most Beautiful said, she became enraged and set out to teach Most Beautiful the lesson he most richly deserved.

 

Finally she spotted him strutting around a small campfire close to the lake. Without warning she swooped down and grabbed the Most Beautiful in her sharp talons. Mother Owl soared high into the air all the while clutching the Most Beautiful and telling him exactly what she thought of him.  In fact, Mother Owl was so angry that she streaked back to earth and threw the Most Beautiful in a nearby campfire. Oh, the Most Beautiful shrieked and cried for mercy while the smell of his burning white fur filled the air. 

 

At the last moment, before the Most Beautiful burnt up entirely, Mother Owl felt pity for him. She thought he had suffered enough and should not have to die for his cruel vanity, so she snatched him from the fire and threw him into the waters of the Great Lake.

 

It was a sad and humble Most Beautiful that crawled to shore that night. All of his beautiful white fur from his head to the tip of his magnificent tail had been burned black – except for one white stripe that ran down the middle of his back. The Most Beautiful had learned his lesson. No longer did he brag or hurt the other animal’s feelings. For his arrogance cost him his beauty.  Still today, when he passes anywhere near, you can smell the stench of burning fur.

 

So be careful what you say and who you hurt. You, like the skunk, will most certainly live the consequences for your choices and actions. Pay attention to the lesson in this tale, for this is the lesson of how the skunk got his stripe.

 

As you can see, the story gets the point across. If you would like to get your point across to your child, head to the library and check out a book of stories such as this one. By listening to your child you will find just the right “coachable-teachable” moment to instill just the values and ideals you would like them to have. Your message will go in and stay in.

Jeanne - About the Author:

 

**Jeanne Webster is a certified professional life coach who specializes in teen/young adult issues, life transitions and spiritual integration. She is an award-winning author, speaker and columnist. Strays is her third book and first fiction.

 Her first book, If You Could Be Anything, What Would You Be? is a life-mapping guidebook for teens that connects the dots between education and life goals. If You Could Be Anything won two national awards: the iParenting Award and the U.S.A. Book Award for best book of 2004 in the teen/young adult category. It is used in schools and mentor programs throughout the country and also has been published internationally. To see all her published works visit www.straysthebook.com

 

Source: http://articleswrap.com/article/teaching-life-lessons-through-storytelling.html
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